Twitter has prompted campaigns on its own platform and across various media websites this week with its decision to stop supporting SMS.
The cost of sending out those tweets is just too much for the company behind the service to bear. According to its statement on Wednesday; “It pains us to take this measure. However, we need to avoid placing undue burden on our company and our service.”
Up until this week, users of Twitter could choose to receive all, or just some, of their tweets on mobile phones. It meant many journalists (myself included) were able to move seamlessly between a useful channel of communication in the office, to one on the move.
It also provided an easy way for many newspaper companies to offer “updates to your phone” services for everything from Manchester City updates (MEN) to breaking business news in the West Midlands (Birmingham Post) to sport on the move (Evening Leader).
Some of those pro-twitterers expressed their annoyance to journalism.co.uk and the sudden decision prompted howls of anguish all round.
The Guardian’s Jemima Kiss blogged on the issue and then set up a poll to ask users whether they would pay for tweets.
The results at the time of this posting were predictable enough - the majority (including me) want it all and want it free.
And therein lies the problem, we’re used to getting lots for nowt.
Had Twitter introduced a charge at this point for a NEW SMS service, they may well have found enough people who’d welcome it as an enhancement, but simply taking something away that was provided for nothing does nothing for their case.
But regardless of what happns next, the unexpected change in policy has given me another headache completely unrelated to tweeting on the move – it’s a matter of trust.
It’s hard enough to persuade editorial managers, readers and website users to try something new, to reach outside of “our”structures and trust in tools provided by others without having them snatched away unexpectedly on a wet Wednesday morning.
Thanks to this decision, those services which set up offering, what seem to be easy solutions to tricky techie problems, could well find it harder to build up so many trusting users in future.